Nutrition, especially among vulnerable groups such as children, adolescent girls and mothers, has received a major push in the 2020-21 Budget announced by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The Finance Minister announced an allocation of Rs 35,600 crore to various nutrition programmes, including Poshan Abhiyaan or Nutrition Mission launched by the BJP in 2017-18.
The Finance Minister’s push for improved nutrition comes in the backdrop of the Economic Survey which listed “zero hunger’’ as an essential focus area for the government.
The Abhiyaan was launched to improve the nutritional status of children (0-6 years), adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers. The minister further said that more than six lakh Anganwadi workers have been equipped with smartphones to upload the nutritional status of more than 10 crore households.
Announcing that the government was determined to eradicating manual cleaning of sewer systems and septic tanks, the minister said the Ministry of Urban Development has been asked to look for alternative technologies to implement mechanised cleaning. The government has, however, not increased the budgetary allocation for the Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which has remained at Rs 110 crore, the same allocation as in the last Budget.
The outlay for the Integrated Programme for Rehabilitation of Beggars has been increased from Rs 5 crore in the 2019-20 Budget to Rs 100 crore this year.
The Budget provides for Rs 28,600 crore for programmes specific to women. The minister also announced a task force to work towards lowering maternal mortality rates and improving nutrition levels.
While the minister said the government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyaan had “yielded tremendous results’’, the outlay for the programme had been reduced from Rs 280 crore in the 2019-20 budget to Rs 200 crore in the 2019-20 revised estimates. The government has kept an outlay of Rs 220 crore in the 2020-21 Budget.
Of the total outlay of Rs 30,000 crore for the Ministry of Women and Child Development, nutrition-specific schemes such as anganwadi services, which form the core of the Integrated Child Development Scheme, have received the bulk of the allocation at Rs 20,532 crore. This is an increase from the 2019-20 revised budget estimates of Rs 17,704 crore.
The ministry has been allocated Rs 385 crore for One Stop Centres that are aimed at providing integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence.
“In furthering this government’s commitment towards the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Other Backward classes’’, the Finance Minister has announced a budget provision of about Rs 85,000 crore for 2020-21 and for Scheduled Tribes a budget of Rs 53,700 crore.
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